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Available as an experiment in Chrome Canary for now
According to 9to5Google, the experiment is available in Chrome Canary when activating the chrome:flags/#side-search flag, though we haven’t been able to spot it in our Canary release just yet. In any case, Google says that some people will see the sidebar turned on automatically. When it’s available, you’ll be able to open the search sidebar by clicking a Google Search icon to the left of the address bar once you’ve entered a search result from the regular Google experience. Upon clicking the icon, a mobile Google search site will appear to the left of the page you’ve opened. Links you click in the sidebar will then replace the website you’re currently viewing.
Google says the experiment only works with its own search engine for now, but “with any broader rollout in the future, we’d aim to bring it to more platforms with support for more default search engines.” The company also claims the test is only available in Chrome OS, though we’ve seen it in action on other platforms, too.
Sidebars have historically never found a place in Chrome’s native interface, even though they are pretty popular with the competition, like Firefox, Vivaldi, and, yes, Internet Explorer. However, with websites often leaving loads of vertical space unused when viewed in full screen, it seems that Google is finally embracing this interface element — after all, another recent experiment already added a handy sidebar for the reading list and bookmarks.
Google has also announced the addition of a “Journeys” page to Canary that collects all related search results in a single space. You can read more about it in our dedicated coverage here.
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